Welcome back to Twin Star Exorcists. It’s time to do some catching up just as the series shifts gears, switching locations and dropping some lore bombs on us. Is it good?
With the tenth volume, the focus is on setting the stage for what is to come. Rokuro and Mayaura have arrived on Tsuchimikado Island, ground zero for the war against the Kegare, in preparation to chase down Yuto. From here, the characters and us learn more about the island and it and its exorcists’ histories. We meet new characters and also get surprised with a few new revelations about the true aim of the exorcists. While there is plenty of stuff going on and to dig into, it doesn’t feel like much story progression gets made. We learn and see a lot, but the focus is clearly on clearing the path for the road our characters will walk down.
Elaborating on that, a good chunk of this volume is dedicated to pure backstory and world-building. It really gets into the lore, revealing a lot of the secret truths about the true nature of the island, the Magano, and even the original exorcists that were involved in fighting these demons. Without giving away the details, the information we learn is pretty interesting and flips a lot of the ideas and concepts we thought we knew on their heads, while also making us wonder what Yuto is really after. The downside is that the info-dumping and exploration take up the majority of the book, pushing out much room for story development. Also, the new information doesn’t seem to affect or change our established cast, which leads to another problem.
The established cast of characters don’t really grow or change, feeling more like bystanders in the book. They certainly say things and Rokuro is in every chapter, but it feels more like he’s just along for the ride. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t any characterization and progress here, but the volume mostly just sets up for things coming later. By the end of the book you see the starts of everyone’s journeys and the promise of a neat new direction with each of them, but it doesn’t feel like we get to see them do much this time out.
The majority of the characterization and growth goes to the supporting and side cast that are being introduced here. We get to meet the Ruling Families and the 12 Guardians of the island, each having their own unique visual designs and looks to them. Many of them come across as stereotypical upper-class snobs or people really into traditions and doing things one way, but a few do stand out amongst the crowd. Tenma Unomiya, one of the most powerful exorcists, is one of them, being naturally gifted and very relaxed. Set up as a potential rival for Rokuro, he has an attitude and presence to him that contrasts curiously with his encouragement of our lead, wanting him to become a great exorcist even better than he is. There’s the oddball Tatara, an enforcer who never really expresses or says anything except through emoticons that appear on his mask. And then there’s Shizuru, who is the weakest of the new characters introduced. She’s a hard ass whose cold heart is melting because of Rokuro, and she’s starting to fall for him. It’s derivative of Benio’s own arc, which has been a mixed bag up to this point.
As a whole though, the writing for the book is perfectly fine. The pacing is pretty fast outside of the exposition and backstory exploration, moving the readers along swiftly and getting everything quickly established. Dialogue is fine, but a bit unremarkable outside of the last chapter, in particular with the scene at the Ikaruga Family home when Rokuro and Mayaura visit. The plot can be a bit stale at times with its use of traditional shonen tropes, like tradition versus a newcomer’s way of doing/acting, or the hero having to stand up for someone being put down by some old fogey/royalty/high-position guy. The tropes are used in a straight manner without much changing up and twisting around, making a things a bit tired. That said, the creator can still work rather well with these at times and write a very effective moment, like most of the last chapters and the family-based segments. There’s both good and bad here, and it leans more toward good than bad altogether.
The artwork is fine too, serving the story well. The layouts are good and make things easy to follow most of the time. Things get a tad chaotic during the action sequence in the middle with how things flow and move. However, while admittedly exciting and bombastic to look at, it is also the only bit of action in the whole volume, so those wanting more will be a tad disappointed. With that said, it is a nice break after the last two books in comparison when thinking about it. The art does shine in conveying mood and tone, bringing to life the power and energy of some of the scenes very well. The entire flashback as we learn the history of this universe is a good example, especially the horrifying double-page spread. The fanservice still feels as distracting here as it does in other volumes, poorly integrating with the drama and serious tone at times. Thankfully there isn’t much of it, so it isn’t too much of an issue.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 10 is another decent volume of the series, though its focus has turned away from the intense action and heaviness of the past few books. Instead, it is more about world-building, setup, and establishing a new setting and new characters, setting our main characters to the sidelines for most of the time. However, there’s not much wrong with the book overall and its teases for the future do offer enough to keep you coming back for more.